Local News

High-speed rail draws concerns

Posted July 23, 2010 6:47 p.m. EDT
Updated July 23, 2010 8:04 p.m. EDT

— A planned high-speed rail line that will eventually connect Charlotte to Washington, D.C., has some communities between Raleigh and Richmond, Va., concerned about how the service could affect them.

The Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor is still years away from a reality, but community leaders in several towns are concerned about the impact permanent closure of railroad crossings could have on traffic and emergency response times.

In Henderson, for example, 12 of the 17 railroad crossings would close permanently for safety reasons.

"We want to make sure the people on the other side of the track have the same opportunity we have on this side of the track," Henderson Mayor Pete O'Geary said.

At the same time, a new rail line would force George Harvin to get rid of seven storage buildings at his company, AA Self Storage.

There are similar concerns in Youngsville, in Franklin County, where a crossing at the town's major thoroughfare, Main Street, would be closed temporarily.

"It splits the town in half, and we don't want to see that happen," Mayor Sam Hardwick said.

Traffic is also a concern in downtown Raleigh.

Greg Hatem, a developer with Empire Properties, says some crossings there would also be shut down.

"It's important to make it easy for people to get downtown and through downtown," Hatem said.

The concerns are why the state Department of Transportation is seeking input.

The agency has been holding open houses and public meetings in Franklin, Wake, Warren and Vance counties to explain to the public how the high-speed rail could affect surrounding communities.

"You can't build something of this scale and do it where there are no impacts," said Patrick Simmons, director of the DOT's Rail Division.

Three more information sessions and public hearings are planned for next week:

  • Monday, July 26, beginning at 5 p.m., at the Raleigh Convention Center, 500 S. Salisbury St.
  • Tuesday, July 27, at Aycock Elementary School, 305 Carey Chapel Road in Henderson.
  • Thursday, July 29, at Franklinton High School gym, 6948 N. Cheatham St. in Franklinton.